January 11, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “Second Chance”


SECOND CHANCE:  Wednesdays 9PM on FOX (pilot also available via VOD/streaming) – If Nothing Else Is On…

There’s not much spark to FOX’s SECOND CHANCE, a spin on Frankenstein (at one point it was even titled The Frankenstein Code), restyled as a contemporary sci-fi-tinged procedural.  The show’s creator Rand Ravich was behind the intriguing Life but also the unfortunate Crisis, so we’ll have to hope he’s the right kind of mad scientist this time.  (Another producer is Howard Gordon, who with Homeland, Legends, Tyrant and 24 among his recent credits seem to be producing every second thriller on TV these days.)

The “monster” of this Frankenstein story is Jimmy Pritchard, a cantankerous, heavy-drinking 75-year old former sheriff (played in this incarnation by Philip Baker Hall), who resigned his post a decade earlier after a murky scandal.  Jimmy has a tight-laced FBI agent son, Duval (Tim DeKay, back in the Bureau after White Collar), and a sweet teen granddaughter, Gracie (Ciara Buono, recently on FOX’s Red Band Society), as well as a daughter Helen (Amanda Detmer in the pilot) who we probably won’t be seeing much since she isn’t a series regular.  Jimmy is murdered when he stumbles onto a cover-up of one of Duval’s cases, but he doesn’t stay dead for long:  he’s brought back by the twin internet billionaire geniuses Goodwin, Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria) and Otto (Adhir Kalyan).  New Jimmy is a young hunk (Robert Kazinsky) with super-strength–and, we’re told, even super-potency.  The Goodwins, for their part, have a particular motive for restoring life after death, since they hope Jimmy’s rejuvenated blood can cure Mary of her late-stage cancer (which doesn’t keep her from looking radiantly healthy at all times–this is network TV, after all).

Young and fit Jimmy, of course, jumps right into solving crimes, starting with the one that resulted in his death, and although Mary chides him for abusing his new body (every case has a timeclock, because if Jimmy is away for too long from the tank that does its magical work on him, his body starts rejecting its new organs), she’s soon enough serving as his back-up and liaison with the Goodwins’ technological empire, and the pilot provides a tip-off that she’s falling for Jimmy 2.0 as well.  Otto, for his part, is a bit more of a cipher, located somewhere on the Asperger’s scale (for 9 years, he spoke only to Mary in a language he invented).  Jimmy also has to work on his relationship with Duval, without (so far) revealing his true identity.

Ravich does an efficient job of setting all this up in the pilot, and Michael Cuesta directs it slickly, but at least for now Second Chance has little personality.  Kazinsky appears to be a functional action star who doesn’t look, sound or act anything like Philip Baker Hall, and apart from a gag or two about geezers and their ignorance of the Internet, the script doesn’t give him any mileage out of Jimmy’s having the mind of a septuagenarian.  DeKay is almost literally playing the same role he’s been performing for years, so it’s no surprise that his performance feels recycled.  It’s all rather bland:  if New Jimmy were a bit younger, Second Chance could just as well air on CW or ABCFamily (oops, “Freeform”).

Second Chance is going to air with the final season of American Idol as its lead-in (and then a few weeks of Rosewood), in a crowded hour for procedurals with both Criminal Minds and SVU as competition.  It has the advantage of not being as ancient as those shows, but if it’s going to be more than generic fodder, it will need to find some more substance beyond its mildly grabby premise.  Of course, “fodder” is most of what the broadcast networks air these days, so perhaps “It’s alive!” will apply in the end to Second Chance as well.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."